Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is believed to have a strong genetic component and now researchers have discovered five major areas or gene regions that are implicated in the development of bipolar disorder within patients.
The study, titled “Genome-wide association study reveals two new risk loci for bipolar disorder,” was published in Nature Communications on March 11, 2014 and is detailed in a recent article on PsychCentral.com.
The team of researchers analyzed genetic information from 2,266 patients with bipolar disorder and 5,028 comparable people with the disorder. They merged this information with existing information from other individuals in various databases to analyze in total the genetic information from 9,747 patients and 14,278 non-patients.
Their analysis revealed five areas that were connected to bipolar disorder. Three of these five areas were already suspected to be connected to bipolar disorder. The two new areas were concentrated on chromosomes five and six.
In their study, the authors write, “Our finding provides new insights into the biological mechanisms involved in the development of bipolar disorder.”
Co-author Professor Marcella Rietschel says, “The investigation of the genetic foundations of bipolar disorder on this scale is unique worldwide to date.”
One of the new areas, called “ADCY2,” was of particular interest to researchers. This section of DNA oversees the production of an enzyme used in the conduction of signals into nerve cells.
Dr. Markus Nothen said, “This fits very well with observations that the signal transfer in certain regions of the brain is impaired in patients with bipolar disorder. Only when we know the biological foundations of this disease can we also identify starting points for new therapies.”
Genetics expert John Vincent said, “We’re all working toward establishing the ultimate set of genes associated with bipolar disorder, and then we can look at how they are involved in the functioning of neurons in the brain. We need to pool results with other studies to confirm the true associations, and this requires many tens of thousands of people.”